“The Death of a tree is the birth of a log or a snag [a standing dead or dying tree]. Dead trees are essential to the health of the forest and they are the basis of its astonishing productivity. Fallen trees are a substantial reservoir of organic matter and water that other plants and trees depend on. . . As a tree slowly decays, it becomes a nursery for plants. It may take 400 years or longer to become incorporated into the forest floor. During this time, a variety of shrubs and trees have the opportunity to develop part or all of their root systems within the decaying wood.” - California State Parks guide for the Founders’ Grove in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
A couple weeks ago, I went on vacation along The North Coast or “Redwood Coast” of California. The hubs and I spent a lot of time hiking, and we did some camping among the giant redwood trees. It was wonderful.
I was particularly struck by how intertwined death and life are in the forest (Did you know that the greatest accumulation of biomass [living and dead organic material] ever recorded on earth is in Humboldt Redwoods State Park?).
I knew in theory that when things died they provided nutrients for living things. “Cycle of life,” “when one door closes, another opens,” and all that, but there was something about seeing so many fallen and standing dead trees, and the life that grew out of them that amazed me.
There were also a lot of fire-scarred trees, and trees with crazy holes through them. The forest wasn’t just filled with natural beauty, it was also filled with destruction, natural and man-made (96 percent of the original old-growth coast redwoods have been logged).
Sometimes when we are pursuing our Big Vision, things die (goals, habits, identities, ways of being, jobs, where we live, relationships). The destruction can happen by our hand, or by others’, deliberately, or against our will. Reality is, death, destruction and challenges will happen. On the up side, the growth of new things and “nutrients” for existing things can come out of those deaths.
One of the things that helps redwoods survive strong winds and floods is to intertwine roots with other redwoods, so when a storm rolls into your Big Vision, or your life in general, find someone to intertwine your roots with and hold on!
All photos by me and the hubs.